Two Reuters journalists jailed for their reporting on the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar walked out of prison yesterday, freed in a presidential amnesty after a vigorous global campaign and backroom diplomacy for their release.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were mobbed by media as they stepped out of Yangon’s notorious Insein prison after more than 16 months in detention. TThe two men were convicted on charges of violating the official secrets act and sentenced to seven years each.
At the time of their arrest, they had been reporting on a September 2017 massacre of 10 Rohingya Muslims in conflict-hit Rakhine state, where the Myanmar army forced some 740,000 of the stateless minority to flee over the border to Bangladesh.The case prompted an outcry around the world and crushed what was left of Suu Kyi’s legacy as a rights defender.
heir December 2017 arrests made them an international cause celebre and a sign of Myanmar’s deteriorating press freedoms under Nobel laureate and civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Wa Lone, 33, thanked people from “around the world” for advocating for their release and vowed he would return to work. “I can’t wait to go to my newsroom,” he said. “I am a journalist and I am going to continue.”